Why isn’t cheese found in Asian cuisine?
Cheese is a much consumed food in western cultures. In countries such as Italy and Spain, it is one of the main ingredients of the most traditional recipes and, in turn, of the most innovative. Additionally, not only do we like cheese ‘cooked’, we also like it ‘raw’. However, if we go to an Asian restaurant, it is likely that we won’t find a dish which contains this tasty treat.
But the continent is enormous and in some Asian countries cheese is one more foodstuff among many, consumed daily or regularly as is the case in India. China is one of the Asian countries where cheese is found in only a few homes Why? The American anthropologist Marvin Harris found in a study that the majority of the Chinese suffer lactose intolerance. Thus, the main reason why this dairy product is not consumed in China may be genetic. However, there is also a cultural aspect, namely that the Chinese don’t like milk or its derivatives.
That said, imports of cheese in China have grown since 2006, although sellers say that the main customers aren’t Chinese but rather foreigners living there. However, many Chinese people are moving towards this product. Perhaps the cheese eaten most is Cheddar, followed by Camembert and Cabrales. While they don’t eat as much cheese as westerners –
the average annual consumption of a Chinese citizen is 10 grams and that of Europeans or Americans is 15 tonnes.
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Many people will ask what products are used in place of cheese. Refined lard is one, and although they don’t eat much western cheese, the Chinese have created their own cheese: tofu. This food is prepared through a process similar to cheese-ripening. It consists of the coagulation of soymilk, obtained from soy and water. Also, in other parts of Asia cheese is made with yak’s or mare’s milk.